Focus 4 (of 4)-The Answer You Wanted

Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?

Focus 4 | The Answer You Wanted

Sometimes, God gives us a gift that is as illuminating as it is terrifying: an answer.
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 4" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.
Let’s talk about the number 42.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight. (And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Interact with this presentation to consider what God has for you.
The Bible’s story of Job is remarkable. Pain, doubt, questions, misinformation, and faith are all met with the same thing: The answer of the Almighty. In each part of this series, you’ll walk with a different character from the story through their thoughts.

You heard from Job during the first week of this series (you can check that out here). You heard from his terrible friends during the second week (you can check that out here). You heard from a young man named Elihu in the third week (you can check that out here). Finally, hear from the voice of God.

Can you find the point in these words? Before you interact with this image, get out some way to take notes—hopefully, one you’ve used for this entire series. As you interact, write down one or two ways God is showing love and compassion even though Job is suffering. (In other words, when he sees Job’s suffering, how is he explaining what’s going on?)
Listen to and consider these two tremendously contrasting songs.

God comes to Job, and he answers all of Job’s questions with a set of his own questions. This is a great depiction of what it looks like to ask God a question and to hear back from him.

If God is truly God, and if he is truly loving, then he will answer accordingly. On the one hand, he is God—in a position you do not hold, understanding what you do not know, and never being unable to control what is going on. At the same time, he wants to love you—he wants to have a two-way relationship with you, and he’ll do all he can to make that relationship happen. 

First, listen to these two songs. As you listen, notice that they both ring true, even if they are vastly different in tone.

Then discuss this (if doing this Spotlight in a group) after listening: How can that contrast help your perspective on God’s approach to your questions?
The truth is, you neither need nor deserve the answers God gives you. It may feel like you need them, but you don’t.

(The proof of this is that you don’t have them now, and you’re still going to be OK.)

In fact, it is often true that the answers you seek aren’t even what’s 100% best for you.

(But because God loves you and doesn’t spend time controlling you, he still gives them to you.)

Every answer is an invitation to love and be loved, along with being a reminder that God knows the answers even to the questions you will never think to ask.
God is always “love first,” and his love will never end or run out. That being said, his love doesn’t always look like you want it to look—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t love. You might think of God’s love as the carrot stew in the brief story below.

Consider these questions as you read on:
  • How, over time, might carrot stew become unsatisfying? 
  • How, over time, might the carrot stew seem to be unloving? 
  • When the narrator rabbit decided he didn’t want to go get more stew, of whom did he fail to think? 

The Neverending Stew
We scurried through life, always on edge. There never seemed to be enough to eat, and danger lurked everywhere. It was hard, but it was all we knew. Then, one day, my sister burst in with news.

"There's a place with a pot of stew that never runs out! No matter how much you take, there's always more. We'll never be hungry again!"

We were skeptical, of course. "Stew? Why haven't we heard of it?" "It can't be endless, that's impossible." "I'll believe it when I see it."

My sister explained. The Great One, she called them, had a pot of stew simmering in a hidden cave. Any rabbit could come, any time, for a bowl as big or small as they liked. And the Great One always welcomed them with a smile.

Curious, we followed her. As we arrived, my parents and elders exchanged surprised glances. They recognized the cave – a place they'd visited during a harsh winter long ago. They seemed relieved to find stew still simmering there. The first spoonful brought a quiet understanding to their eyes. "Still the same," they murmured.

I tried it. It was warm, filling, and surprisingly good. I came back for days, finding comfort in its steady presence. But then, one day, I craved something different. The green meadows outside called to me, with their fresh, crisp lettuce.

The stew was wonderful, but...
Create a list of advice for receiving questions and doubts with love.

Throughout this series, we've spent the Serve section thinking about the questions you ask and the ones you receive. There is a decent chance that you've had conversations about big questions with people - whether you were the one asking or the one being asked.

Work together to compile a list of 4 DOs and 4 DON'Ts for people who get engaged in these kinds of conversations. 

How to engage with questions:

Write your answers in the boxes below. 
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
We're just about to the end, so let’s review this series—take a look at every section’s perspective. The graphic below charts out the key takeaways from every section of each Spotlight in this series.

It is good for you to ask questions, but those questions should seek to understand and promote love. It is good for the Almighty to answer, and when he does whatever he says will be said in love.

Read this slightly modified version of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love” chapter from the Bible. (If you’re doing this Spotlight in a group, rotate readers line by line, in chronological order of birthdate.)

  • If I ask in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have questions seeking love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
  • If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have questions seeking love, I am nothing. 
  • If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have questions seeking love, I gain nothing.
  • Questions seeking love are patient, questions seeking love are kind.
  • They do not envy, they do not boast, they are not proud.
  • They do not dishonor others, they are not self-seeking, they are not easily angered, they keep no record of wrongs.
  • Questions seeking love do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth.
  • They always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.
  • Questions seeking love never fail. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
  • For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 
  • When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. 
  • When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
  • For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
  • Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
  • And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Listen to this song as we close today.
This song sums up the experience of asking honest questions and letting the Almighty answer with these words: “All of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions, eclipsed by glory.”

Job experienced this when the powerful reality that God “knelt and answered” him put his questions into perspective. When God’s love assures your faith, the weight of your questions is lifted and the questions themselves, which are still significant and important, are given new meaning. It’s not a quest to find out how to be God, how to love God, or how to fix God. It’s a quest to find out how—even in this question, context, or moment—God loves you.
Lyrics from How He Loves by John Mark McMillan

He is jealous for me—
loves like a hurricane.
I am a tree
bending beneath
the weight of his wind and mercy
when all of a sudden
I am unaware of these
afflictions eclipsed by glory,
and I realize just how beautiful you are
and how great your affections are for me.

Oh, how he loves us so—
oh, how he loves us—
how he loves us so.

We are his portion
and he is our prize,
drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes.
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way
he loves us.

Oh, how he loves us—
oh, how he loves us—
how he loves us so.

Yeah, he loves us—
oh, how.
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